HATTIESBURG — Bay Springs had all the points it needed to secure a second consecutive state title before its offense even touched the ball.
A McEvans punt on the opening drive of the game was blocked by the Bulldogs and picked up by Malaki Page, who scampered into the end zone to set Bay Springs on its way to a 22-0 victory in the MHSAA 1A championship game Friday at M.M Roberts Stadium.
“I think that’s really when it started,” Bay Springs coach Dan Brady said. “The doubt started to creep in a little bit. Not trying to take anything away from McEvans, they’re a great team. We just made a couple more plays today.”
From there, the Bay Springs (14-1) defense went to work. Under Regrick Young, who hadn’t been sure about taking over defensive play-calling duties this offseason, the Bulldogs had allowed six points total in their three playoff games leading up to the championship. They turned in a similarly excellent performance Friday.
McEvans was held scoreless and limited to 149 total yards. A fourth-and-goal attempt from the 1-yard line in the second quarter offered the Hawks (13-2) their best opportunity to score, but Bay Springs made the vital stop. Twice more, McEvans ventured inside the red zone. Those trips resulted in an interception and a turnover-on-downs.
“We work on this all the time,” Brady said. “People getting down deep on us. Bend, not break.”
With the Bay Springs defense this dominant, the game fell out of reach for McEvans quickly.
A 19-yard Ty Jones touchdown run and an ensuing two-point conversion put the Bulldogs up 22-0 with 6:49 remaining in the third quarter — a deficit much too large for the Hawks to overcome.
Jones, a three-star prospect and Mississippi State linebacker commit, keyed a prolific Bay Springs rushing attack that allowed the Bulldogs to play risk-free football after taking an early lead.
He rushed 15 times for 105 yards and two touchdowns in his final high school game — and he did it with an injured shoulder that he said popped out of place.
He experienced some pain at first, he said, but he wasn’t about to leave the game so close to the second title in school history.
“We made history again, man,” Jones said. “Ain’t nobody ever won it at Bay Springs. We won it last year and we won it again this year, so it really feels amazing, knowing I was a part of the team that helped do this.”